The Mystics of Environmental History and Ethnobotonical Research

Gradina Botanica, Bucharest

By Ayanda Netshisaulu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg|

Let me set the scene. Right at the beginning of my postgraduate career, starry eyed and interested in gender history, I was offered the opportunity to join a group of students from the University of Johannesburg and Western Sydney University for a two-week programme in the Kruger National Park in north-eastern South Africa. The programme mostly consisted of Zoology students who understood the importance of land gradients and wild animal feeding patterns. As a Humanities student I felt a bit out of place but I wasn’t particularly bothered considering I was enjoying the safari and learning about rhino’s territorial marking patterns!

It was during this trip, however, that I learned that historical narratives can be extracted from anything. We had been discussing land gradients – which to this day I don’t completely understand – when my History professor asked me: “gradients and the science aside, Ayanda what did you get from what was just said now?” What did I get? I was still trying to get my Humanities brain to catch up to the science of it all! How could I “get” anything? He then went on to explain how, for a historian, there is a story in everything. A historian would be asking themselves questions about past land use, about past peoples and about how they would have navigated this land. How did societies of the past know, for example, to burn the grass to allow for the fresh regrowth that would attract game? Whilst initially I had never felt so out of place, it was during this trip that I fell in love with the historical narratives of the environmental past.

Read more

How The Gale Digital Scholar Lab Made Digital Humanities Less Daunting

visualisation produced using the Topic Proportion tool

│By Jagyoseni Mandal, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford│

The global pandemic that hit us last year and continues to affect numerous aspects of life has made research particularly difficult. I can say this from personal experience, as I have had to study for more than a term at my home in India, where I am stuck because of COVID, rather than studying at my university in Oxford. This situation risked affecting both my mental health and my studies; I felt I was running out of both time and resources for my research. But discovering the Gale Digital Scholar Lab has been a revelation, opening up a whole new area of potential research to me, and it is accessible entirely remotely. In this post I am going to share how the Gale Digital Scholar Lab made Digital Humanities accessible to me; how the various tools in helped me in my research and led me to discover more topics around my area of interest.

Read more

How Gale Literature Provided Vital Support for My Dissertation

Academic Library Book shelves

│By Rhiannon Green, Gale Ambassador at the University of Durham│

The thought of researching and writing a dissertation is often a daunting prospect for any student, yet this is even more relevant for those studying in the Covid-19 era. As an English Literature student, I am heavily reliant on my university library, so when lockdown meant I was stuck at home nearly 300 miles away, I thought it would be impossible to get any work done – let alone start the research process for my dissertation. Closed libraries and remote learning have left many students clueless as to how to obtain relevant resources, yet this is where the Gale Reference Complete package comes in handy, with Gale Literature being especially useful for my own research and learning.

Read more

The Impact of the Pandemic on Students at the University of Johannesburg

│By Ayanda Netshisaulu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

In March 2020, in what seemed to be little more than a blink of an eye, students at the University of Johannesburg were thrust into the world of online learning. First years, Honours, Master’s and even PhD students were left stranded in a rapidly changing world. With our trusted archives closed as a result of the South African lockdown, some students felt they were left with no option but to make do with secondary sources – but a historian without an archive is like an artist without paints. Luckily, Gale had opened an art supplies store in the University of Johannesburg!

Read more

The University Experience – Before, During and After the Pandemic

Empty Lecture theatre

│By Juha Hemanus, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki

Many within the university community have faced significant challenges as a result of the pandemic. As a student myself, I’m aware that new difficulties have arisen, be it access to resources or the more isolating study experience. If university is to continue being a productive and stimulating experience for all students it is vital to consider, understand and question how learning practices have changed, what the impacts have been, and what can be done to help students and teachers in the future.

Read more

Teaching with Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Primary Source image combined with female using laptop and writing on paper.

│By Julia de Mowbray, Publisher at Gale│

Now Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO) is approaching its eighteenth birthday, and has been significantly upgraded, with a focus on enhancing ECCO’s user-friendliness as a teaching and student-learning resource, it seems an apt time to see what evidence there is for its use in teaching and student learning. Plus, with more of the students’ learning experiences moving online, to platforms such as Zoom for lectures, seminars and tutorials, and to online e-resources for primary and secondary source materials, what can be learned from past use of ECCO as a teaching tool, and how can this be applied in a remote learning environment?

Read more

How can pandemic literature help us reflect on the virus and a post-Covid future?

Cinema sign: "The World is temporarily closed"

│By Lily Cratchley, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham|

‘No more diving into pools of chlorinated water…no more airplanes, no more requests to put your tray table in the upright and locked position…’ 1

If someone had told me last February that in a year’s time, I would be attending 9am lectures in pyjama bottoms, wearing a mask every time I popped to the corner shop for a much-needed bottle of wine, and would be reduced to “tiers” instead of “tears” during winter exam season, then I would have thought them crazy. However, that pretty much sums up my experience of online learning in my final year of university!

In a second year Dystopian Literature module at the University of Birmingham, I studied Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven. The novel, set twenty years after a global pandemic, depicts a post-apocalyptic world, which wiped out ninety percent of the world’s population. Despite Mandel’s heavily dramatized content, her writing somewhat prepared me for the long term impacts this current pandemic might potentially cause.

Read more

Pandemic Perspectives – Interview with Madi, student at National University of Ireland, Galway

Person on laptop wearing a mask

│By Evelyn Moran, Gale Ambassador at the National University of Ireland, Galway│ Evelyn conducted the following interview with Madi, also a student at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in early 2021. Madi explains the difficulties and challenges she’s experienced studying during the pandemic, and outlines how it’s affected her studies as well as wider … Read more

Stories from the Jacobite Court in Exile: Sir David Nairne and his daughter, Lady Ramsay

Jacques Rigaud, Vue du Vieux Chateau de St Germain en Laye, engraving, 1725, and letter from Marie Ramsay to James Edgar

│By Edward Corp, retired Professor of British History at the Université de Toulouse│

A couple of years ago I published a biography of Sir David Nairne.1 He worked in the political secretariat of the Stuart court in exile for thirty years (1689-1728), and the Stuart Papers contain a great many letters written by him or to him during that period. I read and used those letters, and also consulted a private diary that he kept during the first half of that period. Unfortunately the diary comes to an end in 1708, and there was one thing that I was never able to discover. It might seem unimportant in itself, but it is significant in the context of a biography.

Read more

My Top 10 Tips to Ace Your Dissertation

Man working on laptop outdoors, holding papers, looking like he's achieved something.

│By Emily Priest, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth│

Being a student and working from home in the middle of a pandemic can be hard, and it can be even harder when you have your final dissertation looming. But, despite how challenging things seem, there are a few key things you can do to ease your anxiety and make your work dazzle! Here are ten of my top tips for writing your dissertation whilst studying from home during the pandemic. Tweet us @GaleAmbassadors if they work for you – and share if you have any special dissertation or essay-writing tricks of your own!

Read more